The plight of local fauna along the KwaZulu Natal coast is dire. The accidental introduction from the Americas of possibly the world’s most invasive plantlife is causing environmental chaos.
Chromolaena chokes indigenous shrubland, diverts huge swathes of precious water and ravages regional biodiversity. Thousands of hectares of grazing land have been destroyed along South Africa’s East Coast. Also known as Triffid Weed, for deliberate association with John Wyndham’s evil superflower, and Paraffin Bush (Paraffienbos in Afrikaans) because of its odour, South African media thankfully often cite schemes for individual activism against its destruction.
One such mainstream broadcast plea includes this outline of the scale of the problem.
…this aggressive competitor for space allows no other plants to grow.
Our indigenous plants are being replaced by this weed at an alarming pace.
What’s more, is it got here by accident from America.
Chromolaena is a perennial evergreen shrub of 1.5-2 meters high.
But it can also reach a height of up to meters as a scrambler when it grows amongst trees.
The leaves are triangular with three conspicuous veins from the base.
The flowers are white and grows in terminal clusters between May and September.
One plant can produce as many as 1.3 million wind-dispersed seeds.
Chromolaena is also highly flammable and allows fires to spread deep into forests and plantations…
This Chromolaena, or Triffid weed, also known as parrafienbos, for the smell.
It smells like Parrafin, hence the name Chromolaena Odorata because of the smell.
In summer it looks like a dry plant…
Long straight sticks, and that’s why people don’t see it, because it flowers in winter.
This patch of forest is completely destroyed by Chromolaena.
But today we’re going to exterminate it.
They then featured a simple three-step process. Cut, Treat, Follow-up. In their own words,
Step 1. Chop
Step 2. Spray
Step 3. And the most important step is to follow up
Simple explanations of how to easily identify the unwanted pest preceded a simple demo of how to hack a bush down. A single root can be responsible for several square metres of unwanted land coverage.
Then which herbicide to use and where to apply (on the tip of the exposed root where it was cut down). Finally what was hailed as the most important stage, the follow-up. With a single shrub capable of emitting over a million seeds, the odds are high that a seasonal cycle later you must return to finally see off the plant by repeating the previous process on a second, smaller scale.
As well as applauding personal environmental warriorship, I was struck with how obviously this green problem solving maps onto similar issues in solution selling.
Whether improving your own sales skillset, or remedying a downhill slide with a client for instance, the first step is of course to recognise it and cut it out.
Next you have to take measures to eliminate re-occurrence.
Finally there’s the most important step. Go back and ensure it really has been slain.
I became painfully aware of how this follow-up step is so often neglected in our arena.
It’s a neat tip from Nature.
Whatever action plan you put in place, remember to build in this vital and all too frequently overlooked Follow-Up phase.